18. October – 15. November 2007
Maria Dundakova - "Hey Wave!"
The Basel artist Maria Dundakova (born in Sofia, Bulgaria, in 1939) seeks in her work to express the dialogue
that takes place between events in nature and those in urban spaces. All her projects foster and celebrate the
interaction between people, media and moments in time. As the unseen mistress of the atmospheric, she works
outside the art business on cyclical projects such as "Communication Art" (1975), "The Path of the Shaman" (1983),
"The Rite of Spring" (1986), "Farmhouse" (1989) or the large-scale poetic project "Sun Rite" (since 1991), which,
as "form in flux", comprises subprojects such as "Baptism". In 1991, the spatial installation "Sun Rite – Baptism",
with the participation of Swiss musician Bruno Spoerri and Brazilian dancers Carlos dos Santos and César Volpe,
was singled out by critics as one of the ten best works exhibited at the São Paulo Biennale. At the UN Conference
on the Environment in Rio in 1992, a thousand people were lined up to enter the sea at Copacabana Beach; for safety
reasons, however, the project was not carried through. In its place, the artist realized the project
"A Man and a Wave" for Rio de Janeiro's Museum of Modern Art. In a new manifestation of this ongoing focus on the art
and culture of Brazil, Maria Dundakova's current exhibition "Hey Wave!" in Basel represents a further high point in
her growth as an artist.
With its gradations of blue, the large wall-painting on the ground floor suggests the river as a metaphor for life
and transience. The insertion of colour photos of urban worlds and the monochrome sound images lend movement to our
thoughts, as in a river. These colours and forms in the river embody the restlessness of modern man. With the Rhine
at their backs and Maria Dundakova's wall installation in front of them, viewers are reminded of Heraclites' belief
that "Everything flows and nothing abides; everything gives way and nothing stays fixed". But if "everything flows",
then man exists in a great vacuum that, paradoxically, offers a vast range of opportunities because everything exists
at the same time. He is detached from such notions of left/right, above/below, good /evil or right/wrong.
Every contradiction resolves itself in a world that is in flux, everything changes. This also means that man is as
much of a riddle to himself as the river in which he stands.
If the river as it sweeps from its source to the ocean suggests a stream flowing into eternity, Maria Dundakova has
given form to this very fascination for the infinite by presenting the "love relationship" between a man and a wave
in her Lifescape on the first floor in the form of photographs, sound and video. Series of photos show a man sitting
like Buddha on a rock by the sea and contemplating the horizon. The performer's body interacts with the water to
express a wave, rapture, chaos, life and sound. Sunrise transforms his body into a shadow that recalls the silhouette
of a dancer at rest. Stillness and movement harmonize with each other. The performer assumes an ecological position:
by hearing and listening, he signals his awareness of the environment, in accordance with the motto "Respect for Life".
Expressively themed, large-format photos take up the subject of "A Man and a Wave" by creating an interaction between
what seeks to come together and what strains to move apart. The two sound corridors resonating in the space connect
sound traces of the waves on Brazil's coast with urban sound waves, creating a tension between harmony and disharmony.
The viewers perceive sounds of nature as a sensuous experience. Finally, a video installation shows dancer
Carlos dos Santos again, this time at boisterous play with the sea, waves and sand. He hops, leaps and rolls,
creating figures, physical contacts and gestures rooted in Brazil's modern dance culture. Through this film,
Maria Dundakova shows how difficult it is to get the body language of nature, i.e. of the ocean, to communicate with
that of man – a bold enterprise that few artists tackle. Dundakova speaks of a dialogue between man and his living space,
of a choreography of life that celebrates life's natural rhythms.
by Paolo Bianchi